THE Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Michael Creed, was on hand to present the Burren farming community with a special EU Life award, to mark the role they have played in protecting and enhancing the unique landscape in which they live and farm.
The Green Award, a special award organised by the EU, which is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Life Programme, was presented at a community event in Kilfenora.
Since its inception in May 1992, the Life Programme has supported over 4,300 projects and to mark the anniversary, a competition was organised to choose the very best projects of the last 25 years.
Ireland’s Burren Life Programme emerged as joint winner in the nature and biodiversity category.
At the presentation, Minister Creed said, “It is a huge achievement for an Irish project to win one of these prestigious awards and to have been selected as the outstanding project in its category over the last 25 years is a tribute to the commitment of all of those involved.”
The Burren Life Programme is now an established agri-environment scheme under the Irish Rural Development Programme, funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and by the European Union.
The number of participating farmers is scheduled to triple over the lifetime of the new programme. Minister Creed noted this is a partnership involving many different entities, including the National Parks and Wildlife Service, Teagasc, the Heritage Council and his own department but he paid special tribute to the Burren Project team, led by Dr Brendan Dunford and the local farming community.
“This award acknowledges two significant achievements, including the positive impact which Ireland’s Rural Development Programme, funded and managed by my department, can make to local farming communities through innovative schemes.
“Secondly, the award is rightly a source of huge pride to the farming community here in the Burren and the team who has supported and worked with it over the last 15 years. They have created something very special, something which has caused the rest of Europe to sit up and take notice and is consistently pointed out as a model for other communities and indeed countries to follow.”
Meanwhile, the next Burren Winterage School, organised by BurrenBeo Trust, will take place from October 26 – 28 in Ballyvaughan. The theme this year will centre around the Community-inspired Innovation for Sustainable Farming Systems.